While A is away, the blog continues to play. Please welcome Andra Watkins of The Accidental Cootchie Mama.
A: This is all about Katie, isn’t it?
D: What is?
A: How horrid you’re being. You’re put out because she’s not here, and you have to deal with me, and I’m a pathetic substitute.
D: I morph to suit the characters in your head, Andra. This isn’t about Katie. It’s about you.
A: I don’t have any characters in my head. I am sick of writing. Sick of it. And, I am especially sick of you.
D: I’ve only been in your head for a year. I’m just now letting you get to know me.
A: And, I don’t want to know anymore. I don’t know what to do with your craven wishes. Your faulty desires. Why do you have to be so dark?
D: If you’d just let me have her, I’d go away.
A: YOU CAN’T HAVE HER! She’s not even ten years old. Grown men do not have little girls. This is not Kentucky in the early 1800s.
D: Don’t lecture me about the 1800s. I was there, remember?
A: Sigh. Yes. I know you were there. But now you’re here, and you cannot marry a ten-year-old-girl.
D: She. Is. My. WIFE!
A: Oh, don’t start with the hyper-punctuation and delusional melodrama. I think it’s your silly dramatics that agents keep rejecting. I have yet to nail your character, but I know Em isn’t your dead wife. That’s not how things work.
D: How do you know, Andra? Have you ever died? Like me?
Bertie blew me a kiss and left me in Mommy’s office. I crawled into her cushiony chair and made it spin like the merry-go-round at school by pushing off the front of the desk with my hands. If I spun fast enough, maybe I could disappear.
When I started getting dizzy, I sat still and looked at the things spread out on top of her desk. It was a roll top, almost always closed when I came in there. I picked up a black book with “Appointments” on the front and slipped Mommy’s big silver ring with the blue Indian stone on my finger.
And that was when I saw Mommy’s special cards.
My mommy liked to play rounds of cards with some of her men. Two nights a week, she’d set up tables in her parlor, get several of her ladies, and play her games. Aunt Bertie always put me to bed early, those nights. She had to play, too. Mommy’s rules.
Mommy had different rules for me. Sometimes, Mommy or Aunt Bertie played Go Fish with me, or Old Maid. Mommy even let me yell when I told her to go fish. I got so excited when I was winning. Like it was my one-and-only way to beat her. She’d smile and draw her card and tell me to never forget what it felt like to be the underdog. Acting like the underdog would get me far in life.
I didn’t understand, but this was Mommy; she didn’t explain.
One time, I snuck down to her office. Late. I knew she played cards with grown men different from the way she played with me. But, everybody was shut up in the bedrooms by then, playing cards of a different kind, I guess.
That night, I was looking for a deck of cards to play solitaire. I played for hours, sometimes, but Mommy didn’t let me keep cards in my bedroom.
I opened her desk drawer, and I found a deck in a pretty ceramic box with jewels glued on top. When I turned them over, every card had pictures of me on one side with scribblings and notes on the number sides. I was younger in the picture, but I remembered posing for it. Mommy made a big deal out of how I looked that day. I stacked the cards and hid them under my pillow in my room.
The next morning, I found Aunt Bertie in the kitchen. I spread the cards out on the table and asked her why she and Mommy played with cards that had pictures of me.
She scooped them into her hands and stacked them back together, really neat. “Child, don’t be asking me about these cards again. Ever. I mean what I’m saying. Lawsy mercy. I need a cocktail to go.” Her hands shook when she left me to take them back to Mommy’s desk and put them back just like I found them.
I never saw those cards again until the day I tore my dress at the zoo. They were magnets I had to pick up and shuffle, more worn around the edges than last time. One by one, I turned them over and read the numbers and words on the backs. Mr Devereaux $100K. Mr Carnell $475K. The Sugar Daddy $500K. The last one had red stars around my face and the words “the winner” written in cursive. When I tilted the chair closer, I almost fell on the floor.
“Emmaline Cagney. Whatever are you doing, pilfering through my private things?”
About Andra Watkins
I am a recovering CPA. A product of thirteen years of parochial school. A former abused spouse. An awesome aunt, but never a mother. I wonder whether I will ever be able to call myself a writer, but I am content as the wife of the lover of my soul.
I am The Accidental Cootchie Mama, because my blog reveals more than I ever intended.